Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Life Lessons

Life is full of lessons to be learned.  If you are lucky, you only have to learn them once, twice if there is a slip up, or three or more if you are just to hard headed to learn, adapt or change.  Dang, there is a lesson right there!

I've been blessed to have had some mighty good people cross my path that have influenced me, one way or another.  Here are a few.

In the 6th grade I had a teacher named Mrs. Guy  at Belzoni Elementary, back before private schooling.  Mrs. Guy was one tuff cookie, and everybody feared that first day of school when you entered 6th grade, would she be the one you got?  I learned from her to always select the teachers that made you work harder.  It make you appreciate them more when you got one that didn't care as much or didn't push you near as hard.  After Mrs. Guy, I never feared going to the next grade or the next life adventure ever again.

Mr. Howell, my scoutmaster, growing up, picked me to be the junior assistant scout master.  On trips to Shiloh National Military Park, I never got past walking the first four trails.  I walked the same paths with the younger scouts, leading them through their walk through history, and showing them how to find the answers to the trail guide questionaire.  I thought, damn!  I'm missing out on the adventures that lay ahead on those other trails with the older guys.  Later I learned to appreciate learning through a younger set of eyes, watching and helping the new crop of first time trail walkers.  These lessons helped me later when I was called to lead others in the business world.

Mr. Jack Sutphen was my first employer right after I graduated from college with my accounting degree.  I learned more about the accounting profession in the first six months working with him compared to four years of schooling, or time spent at my other jobs during my working career.  Work hard, do your best, and the rest will come easy.  He was right.  In all my years of working, I never had to ask for a raise.

Jimmy Thompson, an entomologist in the Delta, took a chance on me during two summers of my college years.  He taught you what to look for, showed you how to do it, then dropped you off, with the expectation of receiving a full report when he picked you up.  He later used me in his tree service business.  I learned how to deal with customers, and how to work independently with little or no supervision.

My last college summer, I worked in the local community.  The town paid me $250  to help with the minor league and little league baseball programs.  I wasn't much of a baseball player after little league growing up.  When I went to get my drivers licence, I learned that I needed glasses.  No wonder I couldn't see or adjust to those fly balls in pony league!  The time spent with these boys at the baseball park that summer was time I'll never forget.  It taught me to have patience with others as they are learning.  Granted, that patience did grow thin over the years and I catch myself being impatient now in training new assembly techs.  When my boys started playing sports, all those earlier experiences came back to the surface when it was my turn to be "Coach Dad".

My good friend John Everett, caught me by surprise during year four of being a soccer dad with son #1.  John called me after soccer registration and said "if you don't step up and coach these boys, there are 12 young men that won't get to play."  That hit me right in the throat.  Growing up, my Dad was seldom there, because work always came first.  How could I not do it.  For the next two years I was miserable, trying to coach while wanting to be just a dad to Matthew.   But, now, I wouldn't trade those two years for a million dollars.  I learned to appreciate the game of soccer, it prepared me for when it was man cub's turn, and to never stand close to a soccer mom in the heat of the game!

My most valuable lesson was learned at age 12.  I was out on the farm, helping reload the planter that spring.  My grand father told me that I was "a worthless piece of crap "  since my butt wasn't on a tractor.  Our relationship died then and there.  I didn't "do farming" after that, and I was bound and determined to do something other than farming with the rest of my life. All things considered, I think things turned out ok.

Both my boys are now adults.  I hope that they have picked up my few good traits  and left the bad ones way behind.  Time will tell.  Fingers crossed......

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Let's Play Ball! in February?????

Made a sale of two of my ice chest cooler boxes to a new friend, Teresa Matthews in Starkvegas, courtesy of my friend Jan.  Teresa needed them mid March.  MSU had a baseball double header, so I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone, weather permitting, of course.  After all, its still February!

Plans were made, and the trip was set.    I got up this morning with a promise of a high for the day of 62 degrees.  The early morning temperature was a mere 34 degrees with frost on the window.  The coolers were already in the back of the big ass Dodge Hemi, so all I had to do was defrost and go!  Man cub's girly friend even gave him permission to spend some quality time with dear ole Dad.  The closer I got to Starkvegas, the more excited I got.  Once I passed through Louisville, I sent Teresa a text, telling her I'd be there soon with the delivery of her two cooler boxes.

The GPS is a funny thing.  For fun, I followed its instructions to a T.  It had me turn right off of Hwy 25, right before you get to HWY 82, on Reed Road, which turns into Garrard, then to Old West Point Road.  I saw stuff I'd never seen before.  I even crossed North Montgomery, a mile north of our Condo.  I ended up on a gravel road, then made the insurance call to make sure I was in the right place for the delivery.  Confirmed!

After meeting Teresa and her husband Gerald, we discovered how small the world is.  Teresa's Aunt and Uncle were Pete and Cricket King, from my home town of Inverness.  Turns out we had several friends in common as well.  Delivery complete, it was time for some MSU baseball!

I picked up the man cub, then the search for a parking spot began.  MSU had tennis, basketball, and baseball going on at the same time.  I suggested a spot near the architecture school.  Man cub said "no way, too far to walk!  Go behind the Hump!"  Well!  around in circles we went!  All lots were preassigned, especially with both basketball and baseball happening at the same time.  Man cub looked over at me and said,"I hate it when you are right!" (most of the time :-) )

As we made our way to the ball park, an older gentleman was holding up two tickets.  I stopped and asked "basketball or baseball?"  He replied "baseball, two chairback seats and a double header, $20".  Well that was a no brainer, even if the man cub could get in free with his student ID.  Dad was gonna be a big spender today!  And wouldn't you know, the seats were right behind home plate, row 2, and seats on the end of the row.  Winner, winner chicken dinner!

It wasn't long before an older than me couple sat down in front of us.  They were loyal baseball fans that have been coming for years.  The guy even offered us two tickets for free for Sunday's game, which we politely declined, since we were there just for the double header, and man cub needed to study on Sunday.  I made it a day trip visit since with the live in girly friend, its hard to sleep triple in a queen size bed, if you know what I mean....

It wasn't hard to strike up a conversation with our neighbors.  I asked the man cub how his arts and crafts class projects were going.  The lady spun her head around, then commented "you're taking arts and crafts?  My granddaughter goes here and she takes arts and crafts.  Maybe ya'll are in the same class!"

One of the items that I brought with me was "the ring".  I asked him what his plans were with "the ring".  Before he could answer, the lady spun around and said, "you're giving your girl a ring?  I hope she says yes!  You seem like a nice boy!  Yep, She'll say yes!"  We just looked at each other and chuckled, wondering what other topics the lady might be interested in.....

The husband left to get some food.  He came back with a handful of food including two hot dogs.  I asked " did you dress hers like she likes it or the way you like it?"  He replied "her way, of course!"  The lady looks at me, said they like it the same and winked at me!  Lord!  For a second, I thought she was flirting with me!

Our seats were absolutely fantastic, except for one thing.  The whole time we were at the game, we were in the shade.  I asked the couple, does the sun ever shine on these seats????  The reply was "NEVER!", a good thing in late April and the month of May, but quite chilly on this late February afternoon!

After the first game was over, we stopped at concessions for a snack, then made our way over to the 3rd base bleachers for some warmth.  Within 30 minutes the sun was again already behind the home stands, making even more shade.  Since neither of us had ever been to the "Left Field Lounge", we decided to stretch our legs, find some more sun rays, and see what it was all about.  No sooner had we gotten around the MSU pull pen, one of the lounge lizards was offering us a taste of homemade brats and pig wings!  That was some fine eating!

As we worked our way over to the third base side, we were able to get a good look at the "Left Field Lounge Redneck Skyboxes"!  These contraptions have to be mobile so that once the baseball season is over, they all mist be removed.  Some of this will change with the renovations that are planned get underway.  It was really neat to see and smell the sights and hear the sounds of the game.  You can see and smell the charcoal smoke in the air and start guessing what might be cooking on the grills.  There was also the smell of recently boiled mudbugs in the air as well.  

Being a people watcher, the man cub noticed, jabbed me in the side, and said "Dad, you're supposed to be watching the game!"  Gals were there wearing every fashion available, with their high top Converse sneakers, boots, and flippers!  And as custom, all the young bucks were right behind with ice chests with locks in tow.  A fella can get awful thirsty, watching, at a baseball game, especially from the lizard lounge!

MSU won both games of the double header.  I came out a winner too!  Saw 2 games, plenty of bird watching, and best of all, quality time with the man cub, minus the lady with the sonar ears! Its always a good time to be had when you hear the words "play ball!" and this good time will be revisited, as we have tickets for two games when the spousal units Black Bears come to town in a month.

Time next time!  

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Roadie Trip Like No Other-Gibbes Country Store

Well, this week, some of my Hotty Toddy friends decided it was time for a Roadie trip to Bolton, Mississippi and then on to Learned, MS for dinner at Gibbes Country Store.  This was kinda a spur of the moment trip, with not a lot of planning, but ended up with a party of eight.

In my work with HD, I travel to Vicksburg quite a bit, and I always see the exit sight for the town of Bolton.  I know several folks that live in the area, but I've never managed to exit right going in either direction.  Turns out that my friend Danny owns the Chevron station right off the exit.

We made it to town, half following my GPS lady Brenda and half listening to friend Janice on the back seat.   We make the final turn to Gina & Danny's place, and sitting in the driveway is a 1962 Cadillac  limousine!  Danny has restored it to working order, and this car was going to be our ride to dinner!

This car reminded me of the black Lincoln in the Animal House movie that John Belushi when nuts in during the parade scene.  I knew this was going to be a fun trip when I noticed the crescent wrench on the floor board of the front seat!  You have never so many cigarette lighters in one vehicle.It even has two pop up booster seats that come out from behind the front seats and the floor.  Danny had a special surprise for us.  He has a fire engine siren hooked up to this bad boy of a car, and once we got outta town he let it rip!

Our first stop was in Raymond to drop off  G&D's daughter with spend the night folks.  We were passed by two of Hinds County's finest along the way, and Danny did not realize that he had his bright lights on when they passed.  He kept looking in his rear view mirror checking to see if one of them was doing a u-turn!  That would have been fun, since there were seven in the car and not a single seat belt to be found.  Once we had delivered our precious cargo we were off again.

Danny looked at me and said "don't even try to figure out how we're getting to the restaurant, because the return trip home will be a different route!"  At this point you had to wonder what ole Danny Boy might have stashed in the trunk of that big old Caddie?!!!  Some of the roads were were travelling on had lost their stripes, and it was like, "where in the hell is he taking us????"  It was obvious where the lines were drawn between City, County and State funded road maintenance!

We finally made it to our destination, Learned, MS, and the Gibbes Country Store.  Your gotta look this town up on Google Maps.  I would love to heard the story of how the restaurant got started.  Learned is literally out in the middle of nowhere!

The restaurant is in an old dry goods store from days past.  There is still merchandise on the shelves, and lots of memorabilia up top.  The cook uses an old charcoal fire pit to do all the cooking.  The owners only accept cash and checks.  No point bringing a credit card, because there is no cell signal or wifi for miles in this neck of the woods.  They serve soft drinks, tea, watrer and beer.  Other than that its BYOB.   The menu is limited, and served on paper plates.  In spite of an overflow crowd on the front porch, our wait was fairly short.

Here are some pictures of the food that was consumed on this night.  And dang it! I forgot to take pics of dessert!

hamburger steak



lamb chop

With Great friends, good food, and a few bottles of wine, a great time was had by all.   The ride back to Bolton was as fun as the trip over!  I suggested we ride by my buddy Buster Trigg's house  and run the siren or honk the horn as we re-entered Bolton.  Danny looked at me and said "son, this ain't the big City, if you know what I mean"!

Can't wait for the next roadie trip with this motley crew!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Thank You for Your Service

My thanks to the men in women that work in our community with local law inforcement and the fire and rescue teams.

There was an accident yesterday.  I got a call to from one of these servants to come quick, they needed me to help calm down my wife, who was driving one of the cars involved in the accident.

Part of their job is to first determine who is injured, and how serious is it.  Next, they tend to the crash victim with the worst injuries.

My wife was an emotional wreck.  The EMT's asked her about her medical history.  They took her vital signs.  They examined her for any bodily injury she might have.  There were no signs of any external trama.  At their suggestion, out next stop was to be the local ER, just to be sure there were no internal injuries to be concerned about.

As we waited in the car, time and time again, officers and fire and rescue personnel approached  the driver side door, and reassured her that everything was going to be ok.  This was an accident, they said.  They handle lots of these on this stretch of Highway 25.  Even the Flowood Police Chief was there.  The injured was one of his officers.  Even he tried to reassure her that this was an accident and everything was going to be ok.

Once we were cleared, and given the ok to leave the scene, one of the Flowood Officers offered to transport her to my car.  I thanked him more than once.

Traffic was backed up because of the nature of the wreck.   The officers and medical personnel took their time to do things right.  Next time you come upon backed up traffic, please have the patience, and understanding that these events take time to assess and clean up.  You never know, it might involve someone you know or love.

Thankfully, everyone will eventually be ok, and will heal, both physically and emotionally.  The police chief was quoted as saying the officer's Guardian Angel was with him today.  It is my hope prayer that Guardian Angels are with these guys every day.

To these men and women, thank you for your service.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Misadventures of Bill and Nick

Well what do you know, working at Home Depot I have found myself a brother of another mother of a different color, my buddy Nick.  It didn't take us very long to hit it off with conversation, and it has been nonstop ever since.

It took me a while to understand his lingo, since he is a transplant from Indiana.  He kept referring to "up in the PJ's", and I asked "what's PJ's?"  He fired back, "you know!  The Projects!  Housing man!"  Up north all us poor black folk live in PJ's like poor white people down here live in the TP's!"  I went, huh?  He said, "dude, like trailer parks!"

I had to pick him up for a road trip to Vicksburg one week.  Nick said he "stays" with his mom and step dad in south Jackson.  After picking him up, I made a quick stop at one of the Arab gas stations.  Four of these places had prices that were 20 cents apart so I picked the cheapest.  Ran my card, but the keypad didn't work to verify the zip code.  Nick says "man! Don't you know that down in my hood everybody goes inside and pays $20 cash for their gas!"  I said, yeah, and another $20 for ice down beer!"

Nick had his coffee cup with him that goes where ever he goes.  I asked him if he wanted to get a refill inside the station?  He fired off "black folk don't pay for coffee!  We get free refills in places like the HD employee breakroom!"

While at work, Nick sat down the wrong way and cracked his phone.  "Damn!  I hate it when this happens!   These damn Obama phones!"  Next day he had another one.  We compared rate plans, his is very similar to mine, except he is paying $30 a month vs my $100!

While on the job, I found a deal on a battery powered sawsall.  Nick says" white people pay full price for tools at HD and Lowes.  We get the same thing but cheaper at the pawn shop!  Nick was with me when I was paying for the saw.  He commented "wow!  You're the first white dude I've met that didn't pay for the extended warranty!

One day we took a lunch break and we ended up at McAllister's,  he had never been.  He looks at the menu board and says "what am I supposed to order?"  I suggested the club sandwich.  When seeing the prices, Nick commented "you know at Burger King you can get 4 for $5!"  His introduction to their sweet tea was hilarious!   He noticed that I paid for our food with my credit card.  He stated the only card he had was his EBT, you know grocery money!"

Our first day working together, I kept hearing strange voices coming out of him.  I finally figured out that he had his Bluetooth headset on, and he was singing along to his tunes.  It was a whole lotta Rap that I commented sounded like crap.  Nick fired back "what!?  Do you expect me to work to Earth Wind and Fire?"

Each day with Nick is a whole new adventure.  I can't wait to see what our next one brings!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

When in NOLA

There are lots of things to do and see in this fine city called NOLA and here are a few tips to help you enjoy your stay:

1.  If you are travelling by car, park it.  You can buy a three day, or single day bus pass for a little of nothing and enjoy touring the city on all the street cars and buses.

2.  If you find yourself tiring, hail one of the bicycle taxis to get you to your next stop in the Quarter.  It's a life saver getting from Jackson Square to Canal or Bourbon Street.

3.  If you go to Cafe Du Monde and find a long wait line, enter from the restaurent.  It's kinda like the back door to the large covered patio.

4.  I haven't seen this one in a long time, til last night. If you are wearing nice.leather shoes, keep walking when approached by a local saying "I know where you got them shoes!"  It's a pickup line for a tip for him to "polish them shoes"!

5.  When on Bourbon Street, there is no need to go inside the peep shows.  The characters will eventually come outside the door, flashing their wares, and trust me, what you see at the door is more better than what's inside.  And you'll swear the female impersonators look better than anythang you have back home!

6.  When Making reservations at a restaurant  for New Years Eve, keep the dining party small, and limit it to one table.  Chances are some of your dining party will be "no shows" and you will get hit with a late cancellation fee on your credit card that you used for the reservation for any table not occupied.

7.  When hitting the clubs on Bourbon, know what you are drinking.  Some of these "cool drinks" are loaded up with everclear, and your head will be spinning in no time.  Never leave a drink at the table unoccupied.  Somebody might drop a rape date poll in it while you have gone to the restroom!

8.  When going to the Superdome, arrive a bit early and see if the public parking lots are open.  We got lucky at the Sugar Bowl and ended up on the upper deck of lot 5, only thirty yards from our entry gate!

9.  It's amazing what a woman will do for some plastic beads, when she has had a wee too much to drink.  It's too funny.

10.  There are signs advertising "Big Ass Beers".  Who wants to drink a beer that comes in a container larger than 16 ounces.  It's usually some Bubba that has bought it, and that's their date for the night!

11.  If you are staying in a hotel outside the city and take a taxi into downtown, remember that most of the cabs in the city only work the local streets.  Before exiting your cab, get the cab company's number so that you can call for the return trip to your hotel.  This will save you lots of walking and hailing cabs that don't leave the city limits.

12.  Good idea to have a backup external battery for when your cell phone finally dies.  If you are going to taxi by using Uber, everything is transacted by smart phone.  Dead battery means no Uber ride back to the hotel!

There are lots more.  These will get you started on a fun, safe stay in NOLA!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Street Car named Desire

We are down here in NOLA for the Sugar Bowl, but that's only one event.

You can't come this far and not go to Acme Oyster House.  We like the location out by Lakeside Mall.  The food is always good and the service comes with an accent that can't be beat.  The best part of eating their chargrilled oysters is dipping the French bread into the drippings!

The ride into town took us past "Mother's"  which had a line out the door a block long.  Been there, done that.  On to the Quarter!  Parked near the Westin, total for the day, $40, not bad considering the time and place.

Had a ball handing our my red and blue beads to people wearing the right colors.  Even swapped bead colors with a couple of OSU fans, all for the love of the game!  The guy caught a "Beat OSU" button and said "here!  It will look better on you!"

The Sugar Bowl Parade had the feel of Mardi Gras!   Beads and stuff flying all over the place.  Both fan bases were treated to school fight songs by their bands.  Our favorites were the local high school bands that added their own style to their march!

With dinner reservations for 6:00 it was time to roll.  We worked our way toward Canal to make a call to Uber.  Traffic stalled and I was able to hail down a taxi.  Best $20 taxi ride ever!

The restaurant was Carrollton Market,  at the end of the St. CHARLES Street car line.  The food was out of this world!  We had such a good time interacting with the waitstaff that the general manager waived the late cancellation fee on our second table.  The meringue on the lemon ice box pie tasted like divinity!  Everything was fresh and made from scratch.  Highly recommend it.

The owners wife is from Leland, and Julie McGregor's daughter designed the signage.  The owners aunt, Mary Frances Hammond has been on me for several years to try them and they did not disappoint.

We took the St. Charles Street car back to Canal
Street.  Had a blast talking restaurants with the driver and making suggestions of things for a couple from Iowa to do.  Several lady passengers were dressed for a "twenties" party.  I almost joined them!

Our walk back thru the Quarter took us down Bourbon Street,  and low and behold we run into our Grove buddy Kyle Phipps and his girlfriend.  Then my cousin Barbara Ann Beckham spotted us.  We swore to tell her dad that we spotted her inside St. Louis Cathedral lighting a candle and doing a confessional!

Feet began to fail us so we opted for a bicycle taxi.  Lord!  I thought we had done stripped his gears when he tried to crank it up!

We ended the night at Cafe Du Monde for coffee and beignets.  Met a new friend at the next table, from Brandon, works for Atmos Energy and knows my brother Jim.  Small world.

Time to recharge our batteries to tomorrow
  2016 is uncertain,  but 2015 has been a "Happy New Year!"